New York City school principals don’t have it easy. They face daily struggles with issues such as drug use and teenage sex, not to mention shortages of books and supplies and burnt-out teachers. Now they have help. Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education created a program that provides a customized course of action to help principals deal with a wide-variety of educational issues.

“The principal’s job is the loneliest in education,” said Lew Smith, co-director of the Carpe Diem program and director of the National Principals Leadership Institute. “In order for schools to succeed, school principals need the support of their peers, the encouragement to grow and the opportunity to learn.” Each school principal is selected for the Carpe Diem program by his or her district superintendent prior to the school year.

The program offers principals made-to-order plans based on their schools’ needs and priorities. Principals have access to support groups, seminars, mentoring and a network for research inquiries, chat rooms, web-site access and more. So, if a principal is battling teacher burnout at his school, his Carpe Diem program would provide guidance on techniques that have worked at other schools. “The focus of the program is to mobilize the energy, wisdom and experience of principals and apply those qualities to the most critical issues facing a particular school,” said Frank Melia, co-director of Fordham’s Carpe Diem program.

“We do not believe in one-size-fits-all.” As the year unfolds, each participating principal reviews his or her Carpe Diem program with a Fordham University staff member and has the opportunity to make adjustments. Also offering assistance are Fordham professors from the Graduate Schools of Business, Law and Social Service, who use their expertise to address a variety of problems that principals face. Carpe Diem is just one of Fordham’s many cutting-edge programs designed to improve national school leadership.

Fordham’s Visionary Instructional Administrative Leadership program (VIA), a two-year training program for current teachers, started in 1998. Also implemented in 1998 was the National Principals Leadership Institute, co-sponsored by the Chase Manhattan Foundation, which is the nation’s leading conference on school leadership. In addition to its programs, the Graduate School of Education also recognizes leaders in education across the country by awarding The Chase School Change Awards, co-sponsored by Fordham’s Graduate School of Education and the Chase Manhattan Foundation, which are presented annually to six principals from across America in recognition of their meeting the challenge of leading school change.